There is going to be an afghan film festival in Edinburgh toward the end of February, the aim is to show a new face of Afghanistan. One which has not been familiar to UK audience, the idea is to bring creativity and fun from Afghanistan. But I don’t see anything creative when I look at the festival program. It’s the same old boring stuff. Taliban, Osama, Kandahar, misery and various stories of a haunted nation. Why should osama or Kandahar always represent Afghanistan. Even if we try to show another face. It’s because the festival organisers didn’t know how to look behind barmak and Rahimi to find new faces of Afghanistan. Let me explain why.
I didn’t dare to call film an industry in Afghanistan, because Afghan film is not an industry, the word industry implicates a distinguished process of production, distribution and screening. It doesn’t exist in Afghanistan, for the obvious reason of economy to support it. but a point to ponder up on is, do we need an established market which has the purchase power and interested in afghan film or a successful industry can create a market. I believe if good business skills are combined with artistic expression then film and video products could be sold. The problem is that we don’t have film makers who could think about the audience, and to be able to think about the ways to make afghans interested in their films. That is a starting point, once audience is interested then you can sell to them.
The film makers are interested in themselves. They are interested about what they think and then they market it internationally. Film in Afghanistan is a notion of arty farty recreation which introduces Afghanistan to clandestine audience, seemingly abroad. Osama won a golden globe award while its merely known to few people in Afghanistan. Whether osama was good enough to win the award than its competitors is a different issue which I will write about in the next post.
I don’t call film an art in Afghanistan because it’s not an art. Art is mass and art is creative. Film industry in Afghanistan is in the hands of few. There is a definite monopoly which I will come back to later.
A few people like seddiq barmak and attiq Rahimi and some others are renowned as film makers. They are happy to be famous and that is the end. There is no notion of bringing up and supporting a generation of film makers in the hope to invest in creativity. The renown filmmakers think they are the ultimate symbol of creativity. I see this as a bad practice but I wish it was only limited to their lack of vision and misunderstanding of the meaning of Art. They create an entry barrier for the young film makers, by default and merely because they exist. There are dozens of young and energetic film makers around Afghanistan which are struggling with their ideas. Some I know has even produced films. But the reason their films are not getting publicity is because of monopolists like attiq Rahimi and seddiq barmak. I believe that young film makers are equally creative as barmak or Rahimi, if not more. But they will never get the attention. Among them their might be people to change this creative talent into a marketable art which could support them invest in film making and create more films. the situation resembles a bit like the film makers in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Are they talented? Yes of course they are. But do they make any money. NO. Hollywood does, Hollywood producers make the money because they have a good distribution system. But they are not more creative than Edinburgh and Glasgow filmmakers. I give this example because of the festival in Edinburgh.
I think a great fun project would be to network the young film makers and try to market their products. Encourage creativity and enable them to get access to festivals such as Edinburgh.
I don’t think I have been real constructive. I think we should go behind the blame game and look into ways of turning film into a vibrant sector. I know many people who does that but work need to be done at different levels. Creative enough is not good, the film needs to reach out and go to different markets.